Have you just bought an air fryer for your kitchen? Or maybe you’re considering purchasing one? Our step-by-step guide on how to use one and tips and hacks will help you on your way to getting the most out of your new kitchen toy.
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
Despite having the word ‘fry’ in the title, an air fryer doesn’t actually fry food. An air fryer is a type of convention oven that can cook food using electric heat that circulates through high powered fans. The air generated by the in-built fan ensure that the food’s surfaces stay dry whilst they cook. The results in a crisp and fried-like consistency on the outer layers of the food and a fluffy (in the case of fries, for example) and moist (think chicken breast) in the middle.
The air fryer’s capabilities don’t stop there. A versatile appliance, they’re also able to bake and roast as you would in a regular oven and take up very little space. Most models are the same size as a coffee maker and can be stowed away into a cupboard when not in use.
How Do You Use An Air Fryer?
If you’ve never used an air fryer before, here is a bit of an introduction into doing so successfully. There are 4 basic stages to cooking food in the fryer which are:
- Prepping your food
- Prepping your air fryer
- Cooking time in the air fryer
- Cleaning the fryer after use
Let’s run through each stage.
Preparing Your Food
As is the case with cooking in a pan, if you want a non-stick situation, use a very small amount of oil in the air fryer basket. Obviously it is important not to use too much otherwise you may as well use a traditional deep fat fryer! If you’re using ingredients or foods that are a bit oily, dry them off first to avoid any smoke when cooking in the fryer. Any excess oil in the fryer should be removed.
Preparing Your Air Fryer
Switch on your fryer and preheat for around 5 minutes – this is generally the time needed to heat most air fryers, though it might be worth checking the instructions on the particular model you’ve purchased. Once the air fryer is hot enough, place your food inside but don’t overfill it. Overfilling your air fryer will result in the air not reaching all surfaces of the food inside and you won’t get the lovely crisp exterior you’re looking for!
Cooking Your Food
Whilst your food is cooking, give is a bit of a shake a few times throughout. This will ensure you get a unanimous golden crispy coating all around the outside.
Cleaning Your Air Fryer
Not the most enjoyable part of the cooking process but it has to be done, especially if you want to get plenty of uses out of your air fryer. DO NOT use your fryer for cooking any other meals unless you have cleaned it first as you risk creating a hub for harmful bacteria and risk food particles that get left inside going rancid. Soak the basket and pain in hot water and washing up soap. Conveniently, some air fryers can be placed in the dishwasher.
If you’re cooking something you know might be messy (foods covered with a sticky sauce for example), place them on a sheet of aluminium foil to facilitate cleaning afterwards. The hot circulating air may cause the sheet of foil to lift during the cooking process, so make sure what you’re cooking has enough force to hold it down.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Air Fryer: A Few Tips
Now that you know the basics of cooking with an air fryer, here are a few tips on how to get the best out of the newest addition to your kitchen appliance family!
Add Water To Fatty Foods
As mentioned above, oil can start to smoke if it gets too hot. To make sure you don’t end up with smoke coming off your food, add a little water to high fat foods like bacon, high fat mince or burgers. The water will help to stop oil and fat becoming too hot and reaching its smoke point.
Don’t Pack Too Much In
Packing too much in to your air fryer will result in the food surfaces not being crisp all the way around. Try to arrange the food as a single layer and make sure you purchase the right sized air fryer for the amount of food you’ll regularly be cooking. Obviously a family of 6 will differ to the needs of a couple!
Know Your Temperatures
If you’re converting from a recipe that oven roasts or oven bakes, look up the correct temperature for the air fryer as this will differ slightly. You don’t want to end up overcooking your food – a process that can’t be reversed!
Reheating Food In Your Air Fryer
You can reheat food in your air fryer. Put the food in the air fryer basket and set the temperature to around 150oC and cook for around ten minutes.
Accessories For Your Air Fryer
There are numerous accessories you can use in conjunction with your air fryer – the possibilities are endless! Many air fryer brands have compatible accessories for specific sizes and dimensions. Air fryer pans are made to measure so they fit perfectly inside. You can also purchase pizza pans, bread shelves and silicone mats for all the different air fryer brands and their specific dimensions. Once you start accessorising, you won’t want to stop cooking with your air fryer!
Other accessories that aren’t used inside or as part of the air fryer’s cooking process include a fry cutter, allowing you to cut your fries to the perfect size. Fries are definitely one of the most popular foods to cook in and air fryer!
You’re hopefully now ready to full reap the benefits of your air fryer and start impressing your friends and family!